Friday, 4 November 2016

Capital III, Chapter 49 - Part 18

Similarly, the reason developed economies create welfare states is that the amount of resources that have to be put aside, at a national level, to cover the various risks to each individual, of suffering ill-health, unemployment etc. are much lower, in aggregate, than each individual must make, taken on their own. A Welfare State thereby reduces the amount of social labour-time that must be set aside for such insurance purposes, and so increases considerably the proportion of the total social product available for accumulation.

“This, of course, presupposes that the portion regularly consumed by direct producers does not remain limited to its present minimum. Apart from surplus-labour for those who on account of age are not yet, or no longer, able to take part in production, all labour to support those who do not work would cease.” (p 847)

This is consistent with Marx’s position set out in The Critique of the Gotha Programme, which also spells out his opposition to liberal ideas of welfare benefits, even in respect of the first stage of Communism. There, Marx sets out that there is no reason why such a society would pay out things such as Child Benefits, to people who choose to have children.

Having set out that each member of this society,

“... receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labour (after deducting his labour for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labour cost. The same amount of labour which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another.” 

Marx continues, that in this first stage of communism, this must result in inequality, because,

“... one worker is married, another is not; one has more children than another, and so on and so forth. Thus, with an equal performance of labour, and hence an equal in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, right, instead of being equal, would have to be unequal.”

But, Marx says this unequal right is not possible, even in the first stage of communism, because it presumes a much higher stage of social productivity. 

“But these defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist society as it is when it has just emerged after prolonged birth pangs from capitalist society. Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby.” 

It is only in the higher stage of communism, 

“... after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labour, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labour, has vanished; after labour has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly -- only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” 

It is only when society has reached this higher stage of communism, when social productivity has created this general abundance, that each individual could take out of society's store products to meet their needs irrespective of how much value they individually had created.

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